YOUR LETTERS: EU exit would be an insult

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Those that know me will know that I am passionate about Europe.

It may well be down to many a childhood holiday in Europe before Britain joined the common market.

When the referendum was announced, I had mixed views because I felt that, as this country had its say in 1975, that should have been the end of the matter.

I accept, however, that the Europe we have now is not the Europe we had then. It is a Europe of 28 states instead of the original nine that there were from 1973.

The founders of the European ideal could only dream of that.

One of the founders was Winston Churchill, who spoke about the tragedy of Europe in a historic speech in Zurich on September 9, 1946.

The speech was a clear vision for some kind of United States of Europe; a Europe that would bring an end to the nationalistic quarrels that had divided it in the past.

Many historians look at that speech and conclude that Churchill saw our role as a sponsor of, rather than participant in, the union that he proposed.

Nonetheless, given the long history of European conflict that dragged Britain into war on European soil time and time again, the basic concept of a union of European nation states must surely be fundamentally sound. Are not the last 70 years clear evidence?

In 1950, negotiations over the Schuman Plan saw the birth of the organisation that was to become the European Union.

Britain did not take part in those negotiations, which I feel was a mistake of historic proportion. Churchill had concluded that Britain must play a part in the negotiations.

In a stirring speech to Parliament on June 27, 1950, he made some quite remarkable statements that I believe are pertinent to the present day.

To those who fear the dominance of Germany in Europe, I would point to Churchill’s statement that the absence of Britain “deranges the balance of Europe”.

To those who express a fear over the lack of sovereignty, I would point to the final paragraph of that speech.

Nay, I will go further and say that, for the sake of world organisation, we would even run risks and make sacrifices.

We fought alone against tyranny for a whole year, not purely from national motives.

It is true that our lives depended upon our doing so, but we fought the better because we felt with conviction that it was not only our own cause but a world cause for which the Union Jack was kept flying in 1940 and 1941.

The soldier who laid down his life, the mother who wept for her son, and the wife who lost her husband got inspiration or comfort, and felt a sense of being linked with the universal and the eternal by the fact that we fought for what was precious, not only for ourselves but for mankind.

The Conservative and Liberal Parties declare that national sovereignty is not inviolable, and that it may be resolutely diminished for the sake of all the men in all the lands finding their way home together.

The final sentence has deep personal resonance. A little over 76 years ago, my father spent several days and nights on a beach near Dunkirk.

I know that his regiment, the Green Howards, formed part of the rear guard at Dunkirk and I know that he and some of his comrades sheltered inside the iron clad hull of a beached boat to avoid being hit by Stuka fire for at least a day and a night.

I am sure that while doing so those men must have been wondering just how on earth they were going to get home.

Is it little wonder that that generation, who were then “the many” of the 1975 referendum electorate, voted to stay in the common market? Now that the many are now the few, should we not listen to them?

All across Europe, people are saying that things are not working in the way they hoped.

I think it is time for European national leaders to face facts and act. Surely as a nation that has saved Europe so many times, we should be taking the opportunity to lead not leave Europe?

To fail to do so is an insult to the memories of all those men who found their way home together.

On June 23, I will be thinking of my father when I vote to remain in Europe.